[Bf-education] Blender's great weakness.. and the solution!

erick parra parra.erick at gmail.com
Thu Nov 8 00:30:46 CET 2012


In my opinion I would like to see a function or script to show when you
changed some parameter "highlighted", similar to the Tony Mullen books.
 This could be a good way to follow a teacher.




Erick Parra V.

2012/11/4 Nigel Ward <nigel.ward at eeb3.be>

>   Hello all,
> Nigel Ward from Brussels here. I only just joined this mailing list and
> may have missed a couple of message that responded to my entirely
> unoriginal suggestion that there should be a ‘beginner’s mode’ in Blender
> that hides most of the more advanced, rarely used options. It’s clear
> though that this suggestion is getting a negative response.
> I would like to make the obvious comment that Blender, like most programs,
> ALREADY includes the option of hiding options that are not needed – we use
> those little triangles to hide lists of unwanted items all the time. And
> every time we expand a window with Ctrl+up arrow it is because not only do
> we want an expanded view but also because we want a cleaner, simpler
> interface. Even the idea of drop-down menus is to hide commands most of the
> time and show them only when needed. So in fact most options in Blender are
> hidden anyway, at any given time. Once you’ve accepted that fact you should
> be more willing to accept the idea of a beginner’s mode that hides most
> options.
> Nicholas J suggests that ‘Using a simplified interface just doubles the
> amount of time it takes to get comfortable’ and Carlos suggests that a
> button that hides 80% of Blender’s complexity would ‘add another layer of
> complexity’ and ‘increase confusion’. I find these comments strange -  the
> whole point of a beginner’s mode is to reduce complexity and confusion, of
> course. It shouldn’t take long for users to realise that if they can’t find
> some option their first reflex should be to click the prominent button that
> switches back to full mode. Identifying exactly what should be shown and
> what should be hidden in beginner’s mode would be an interesting and
> controversial exercise but at the same time it’s obvious that some
> operations and options in Blender are far more basic than others.
> I agree with John N who says Blender ‘has the complexity of a dozen
> Photoshops!’ Blender is already the most complex free software I have ever
> worked with and it will of course become ever more complex with each new
> version. It therefore seem to me INEVITABLE that a beginner’s mode will
> have to be introduced sooner or later for Blender will simply become too
> intimidating otherwise. Already many of my students beg me after a few
> lessons of Blender ‘Can’t we go back to Sketchup, please – it’s so much
> simpler, easier and more fun!’ I worry that if Sketchup ever adds built-in
> rendering then many people will choose it rather than Blender. After all,
> it already has a physics engine (game mode) in the form of the
> SketchyPhysics plugin.
>  Regarding the suggestion that individuals would hack their version of
> Blender to create a customised, simplified interface, there are many
> problems with this:
> ·        Every time the hacker adopts a new version of Blender he would
> need to repeat his work
> ·        Hundreds of hackers all over the planet might be doing this hack
> – how inefficient that would be!
> ·        *Above all, this would not give us a STANDARD beginner’s
> configuration. Therefore no educator would ever make tutorials using their
> custom interface. There must be a STANDARD beginner’s interface option to
> encourage people to make tutorials for it. By all means also give people
> the option of further customising their interface but I think the most
> important thing is to have a STANDARD simplified interface option.*
> Note also that I am not suggesting that there should be a special
> ‘educational’ version of Blender with some functions not available – there
> should be only one Blender but it should have the built-in option of
> presenting a standard, simplified interface with most controls hidden.
> Best regards,
> Nigel from Brussels
> *From:* Nicholas Jainschigg <njainsch at risd.edu>
>  *Sent:* Sunday, November 04, 2012 5:35 PM
> *To:* Blender Educators and Trainers <bf-education at blender.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [Bf-education] Blender's great weakness.. and the solution!
>  Hi--
> I teach Blender at the college level and wanted to contribute that while
> the old interface was slightly intimidating, the new one has enough
> perfectly recognizable functions and tools directly visible that students
> begin messing around with it before I've gotten two minutes into my
> explanatory demonstration.
> I should also add that while I teach Blender, I'm not totally fluent with
> all of its features. The same goes for Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, ZBrush
> and several other packages I teach. In my experience both as a user an
> teacher of software, it's far less important to know every aspect of a
> package than it is to know its general capabilities and how to find out
> what you need to know at the time you're using it. Software today isn't
> like a language, where you can learn it and let it go at that. It's more
> like moving into a new apartment, where you have to get comfortable with it
> and its quirks, but you know you'll be moving in a few years and have to do
> it again.
> People learn software to get things done, not to learn how to push all the
> buttons on it correctly. The quicker you get them to a stage where they can
> do cool things and learn on their own how to do more, the better they'll
> like it and the more they'll learn.
> Using a simplified interface just doubles the amount of time it takes to
> get comfortable, without really aiding in acquiring the basic skills.
> Best,
> Nick J.
> On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM, Carlos Santana <csantanad at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Also it would split tutorial base and add a layer of complexity to
>> handling documentation / wiki / instructional material, and increase the
>> confusion of people not aware of the feature and its meaning("is blender
>> lite another install?" and "please help cant find (UI hidden in lite)
>> button ! " noise).
>> Also you are saying hide physics and such? what if thats the reason i
>> want to start using blender in the first place cause i saw a gorgeous steam
>> train engine animation?
>> What if people only see the lite version of the ui and say, "Well this is
>> too basic for my company to use"?
>> How will "your new steaming hot feature is going to be hidden to most
>> users" affect developers gumption?
>> Who decides which features goes to which side of the watershed?
>> Should we hide node materials too? then what happens to cycles?
>> Why not simply swap Lite for Mobile?
>> Have a Mobile only sub set that is a simplified version of the ui that
>> kicks in when in a corresponding platform is detected.
>> The best way to tackle complexity is through documentation: effort in a
>> lite version should be redirected to the wiki,  imho.
>> And who knows, maybe an add-on that would let devs link any interface
>> element to a wiki entry.
>> The point am trying to make is that centralized information outlets are
>> better than adapting to a user s level of knowledge when it comes to the
>> learning curve, The wiki has seen some terrific amount of work and that is
>> what should be supported when talking about helping new comers.
>> Regards,
>> Carlos Santana
>> On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM, John R. Nyquist <john at nyquist.net>wrote:
>>> I would respectfully disagree with the idea of implementing -- and
>>> teaching to -- a simplified version of Blender's UI. I've tried that with
>>> other software that's had simple/advanced versions and if you start on
>>> simple, the switch to advanced is jarring.
>>> I prefer the approach of showing what you need to look for (initially).
>>> I find people, and especially kids, very good at zeroing on those things
>>> once they're shown (just as Nigel has done). The other elements that they
>>> are not currently using -- while they may be visual noise/texture at the
>>> beginning -- are there in their usual spot for when the learner starts
>>> expanding their knowledge.
>>> I've been approached more than once by new users who say something like
>>> "I'm pretty good at Photoshop how long would it take to learn Blender?".
>>> Blender might be one software program, but it has the complexity of a dozen
>>> Photoshops! Modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, lighting, compositing,
>>> rendering, video editing, game programming, and more. Each one of those is
>>> very deep on its own. 3d in general is a very broad topic, each topic a
>>> discipline of its own. Who knows what will peak the student's interests? I
>>> look at young masters like Jonathan Williamson and Andrew Price, both are
>>> great Blender artists (and instructors) but each excels in different areas
>>> (Jonathan in modeling and Andrew in compositing). I'd be hesitant at hiding
>>> functionality and encourage guiding.
>>> The youngest person I ever taught blender to was my 8-year-old using the
>>> Blender 2.4x series (supposedly a more difficult UI than today). In a short
>>> time, he was able to model a pretty good Garfield (the cat) using mostly
>>> primitives, with some simple materials and textures. I was surprised at how
>>> productive one can be with just the basics.
>>> On a funny personal note, just Friday I was handed a very large manual
>>> for a real-world system. But the owner showed me the 10% that was relavant
>>> 90% of the time. That little bit of guidance made all the world in the
>>> difference. I may need the rest of the manual someday, but to do what I
>>> need to do I know where to look. I feel like that is our job as
>>> instructors.
>>> Regards,
>>> John
>>> PS: My opinion does not let UI designers off the hook. Continued
>>> refinement is important (and time-consuming to design!). I think Blender
>>> has an amazing UI in its ability to be reconfigured (even without getting
>>> into Python).
>>> --
>>> John R. Nyquist
>>> Nyquist Art + Logic
>>> 864-NYQ-UIST
>>> http://nyquist.net/
>>> http://AstraItinera.com/ <http://astraitinera.com/>
>>> On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 2:56 AM, Ton Roosendaal <ton at blender.org> wrote:
>>>> Hi Nigel,
>>>> Thanks for the suggestion. You actually confirm what we know already
>>>> for long, and it's a feature on our roadmap. At the last Blender Conference
>>>> I mentioned it in my keynote as one of the targets for the coming year.
>>>> Now there are two ways forward:
>>>> 1) Join the educators list:
>>>> http://lists.blender.org/mailman/listinfo/bf-education
>>>> I will CC this message to get feedback or help from other Blender
>>>> educators. (You have to subscribe to mail to the list).
>>>> Since all buttons in Blender are defined via Python scripts - an
>>>> average scripter can reduce 80% of the UI quite easily. The trick is to
>>>> define what should go... but it's a quick solution worth investigating.
>>>> 2) The developer/final solution
>>>> The main problem with the previous approach is that changes in the code
>>>> are hard to keep in sync. You basically just take an existing version, and
>>>> hack it for a training purpose. Obviously - for beginner classes you don't
>>>> need the latest of the latest always. Last year's Blender was also awesome!
>>>> A better solution would be if we can find a way to manage "Blender
>>>> Configurations" more easily or automatic even. A bit like how custom
>>>> keymaps now work - these get synced with new releases quite well. Such
>>>> configurations could not only be needed for an "Educational Blender" but
>>>> will also be useful in studios for special optimized UIs for game level
>>>> makers, or character animators, name it.
>>>> Related to that: on our old 2.5 todo is to enable horizontal toolbars,
>>>> also to be used as custom 'shelves' where you can drag tools into. We
>>>> should also allow bigger icons (32 pix or more) for tools, ways to use own
>>>> pictures for it, and good drag & drop support for such tools. (Like:
>>>> picture of monkey, drag in 3d window, adds a monkey).
>>>> With all that, a trainer (or author of training material) can make a
>>>> config for UI tailored for special workshops or classes.
>>>> -Ton-
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> Ton Roosendaal  Blender Foundation   ton at blender.org    www.blender.org
>>>> Blender Institute   Entrepotdok 57A  1018AD Amsterdam   The Netherlands
>>>> On 3 Nov, 2012, at 22:50, Nigel Ward wrote:
>>>> > Hello
>>>> >
>>>> > You’re a busy man, I imagine, so I’ll keep this short..
>>>> >
>>>> > I’m a teacher of ICT at European School 3, Brussels. I teach Blender
>>>> to pupils aged 13-16 and tell them this is simply the very best, most
>>>> sophisticated and most fun free software on the planet. The most fun? Well,
>>>> with sophistication comes the challenge of achieving a level of competence
>>>> beyond which the rewards overcome the frustration of being lost in the
>>>> thousands of options that Blender offers. In my opinion this complexity is
>>>> by far Blender’s greatest weakness (you would call it Blender’s greatest
>>>> strength, of course). I know that in reality my pupils will only be able to
>>>> work with Blender for a few hours in my school – enough for them to glimpse
>>>> the potential of the program and for one or two to want to take it up as a
>>>> hobby, while the rest experience more frustration than anything else.
>>>> >
>>>> > I’M WRITING TO PROPOSE THE SOLUTION! If there was ever a program that
>>>> should offer the option of switching into a ‘beginner’s mode’ in which most
>>>> of the options would be simply hidden then Blender is that program. I
>>>> propose that Blender should have a ‘beginner’s mode’ button or menu item
>>>> which, when clicked, would hide say 75% of the controls in Blender. For
>>>> example, no scene, particles or physics panels, no weight paint mode or
>>>> vertex paint mode etc etc. I’ve been using Blender for more than a hundred
>>>> hours and 80% of Blender’s controls have so far just been ‘noise’ for me –
>>>> I would far prefer the option of having a simplified interface where the
>>>> basic controls are ‘in my face’ and where I’m less likely to make
>>>> accidental changes by changing some setting that I don’t yet understand.
>>>> Since all I am proposing is the hiding of certain options the programming
>>>> effort to make the change would be limited. Choosing which options should
>>>> be hidden would not be too difficult – I’d be happy to make detailed
>>>> suggestions.
>>>> >
>>>> > Thanks for taking the time to read this message and for leading such
>>>> an amazing project as Blender.
>>>> >
>>>> > Nigel Ward
>>>> >
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